By Dino Flammia
International smuggling doesn’t only involve drugs and counterfeit goods. In fact, the illegal transport of wildlife parts has become one of the most lucrative forms of international crime.
Black market demand has increased, threatening the future of the world’s most magnificent animals.
A Chinese national pleaded guilty in Newark federal court on Thursday to being the organizer of an illegal wildlife smuggling conspiracy in which rhinoceros horns, elephant ivory and numerous objects made from the material were smuggled from the United States to China.
Overseas, the smuggled horns were sold at a rate of $17,500 per pound to factories where they were carved into fake antiques or ground to powder for “possible medicinal purposes.”
“Rhino horn can sell for more than gold and is just as rare, but rhino horn and elephant ivory are more than mere commodities,” said Robert Dreher, acting assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. “Each illegally traded horn or tusk represents a dead animal, poaching, bribery, smuggling and organized crime.”
“The brutality of animal poaching, wherever it comes from, feeds the demand of a multibillion-dollar illegal international market,” added New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman. “As a major hub of international commerce through our ports and busy airport, the District of New Jersey plays an important role in curbing the escalation of this devastating trade.”
According to the Associated Press, all rhinoceros species are protected under U.S. and international law, and international trade in rhino horns and elephant ivory has been regulated since the mid-1970s. Audiofile.